What did Jesus do?

by Elizabeth Cunningham

One of the people who most remind me of the Jesus I encounter in the Gospels is my friend singer songwriter Tim Dillinger. He lives on next to nothing and yet carries with him an atmosphere of joy and abundance. His many friendships cross lines of race, religion, age, gender, and sexual orientation in a way that has nothing to do with political correctness. To Tim everyone is kin. He does not shy from confrontation, but when he contends with someone, he also seeks to understand their point of view, even when people condemn him, as many did last week when he posted a link on his facebook page to an article about Jennifer Knapp, a Christian singer who came out as gay, an experience Tim has lived himself.

Some of the scriptural pronouncements against homosexuality come from Leviticus, one of the three Biblical books that detail more than four hundred laws. Most people have a tough enough time observing the Ten Commandments. It hardly seems cricket for Christians to riffle through Mosaic law to pick the ones that reinforce their opinions while ignoring scores of others. Paul, who is famous for fulminating about sexual immorality, is also frequently taken out of context. For an excellent analysis of Romans I, see this article by James Alison.

Both Peter and Paul did do some picking and choosing about which of the laws of Moses to observe and which to disregard as gentiles flocked to the new movement. After a visionary dream, Peter argued for relaxing dietary laws. And Paul waived the requirement of circumcision insisting that what matters to God is a circumcised heart. In context, their policies were liberal and inclusive.

As for Jesus, he said nothing on the subject of homosexuality. You could argue, and many have, that he didn’t have to make pronouncements. He was an observant Jew who would have regarded homosexuality as a sin. The truth is, we will never know his views on this subject. We do, however, have very clear statements from Jesus on how we are to behave towards one another:

Judge not lest you be judged. Matthew 7:1

Do not take the mote from your brother’s eye until you have removed the beam from your own. Matthew 7:3

Let the one without sin among you cast the first stone. John 8:7

Love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:31

I was naked and you clothed me, hungry and you gave me to eat… Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of these the least my brethren, you have done it onto me. Matthew 25

The only people Jesus railed against were the self-righteous and the hypocritical—sins we’re all guilty of from time to time. Let us repent! Focus instead on loving and caring for the people who cross our path. That is what Jesus actually did. And that is what Tim does. And if we do the same, we will not have the time, energy or heart to condemn any of our kin.

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Elizabeth Cunningham April 27, 2010 - 9:53 pm

Maeve here: I have my own story about Jesus and what it was like to journey with him through the terrain of the Gospels. Tim is also a friend of mine. He lives in Temple Magdalen. That's what Elizabeth means by "the atmosphere of joy and abundance. BTW as of this writing Huffington Post has not published Elizabeth's piece about Personality disorder. Also, they would not publish comments by me. Don't know why in either case, but maybe soon Elizabeth will take a week off from Huffpo and let me write a post here. Meanwhile, I am not short of available words: http://www.passionofmarymagdalen.com Love, Maeve

Man Named Kim April 27, 2010 - 10:26 pm

great stuff here, and tactfully presented.

I've often said that the Christianity of the Church gets Jesus' message backwards. He always preached grace to the sinner and judgement to the righteous.

Tim Dillinger April 27, 2010 - 11:10 pm

Elizabeth–First of all, I'm humbled by this. While I definitely draw inspiration from Jesus, to think that my path is anywhere similar to his seems frightening and logical all at the same time, which I think was his real purpose in treading this place we call earth: to display to each of us our humanity and divinity and how they exist, simultaneously. I don't think he ever intended for himself to be deified in the way that he has been, but would rather us find our likeness with him inside of us. "The kingdom of heaven is within you".

The church's take on homosexuality is so entirely disheartening…it always has been. Growing up as a preacher's kid, I was subjected to these sermons throughout my childhood, but it was the Christian music of my youth that spoke to me and shaped my theology, far more than the Bible or a sermon preached from behind the pulpit. Therefore, in the tradition of theologically daring artists like Teri DeSario, Reba Rambo and Leslie Phillips, I am grateful to see artists such as Jennifer Knapp and Tonex being willing to take it a step further and discuss matters of sexuality, carrying the theological discussion a step further.

Maeve–I have to thank you for finding Elizabeth and forcing her to put words to your voice. I totally related to you from the first word. I can't do religion with these regimented, black & white, always set rules and regulations. Jesus rarely contained himself within the temple walls and when he did, heated debate and at least one documented brawl broke out. I don't understand this Pharasidical model of Christianity that is supposedly modeled after him. I'm glad you set the record straight on all of this for us.

faerian April 28, 2010 - 1:10 am

well Jesus was about love, not condemnation and when Tim sings love comes flooding out… I don't know him but i love that he was a midwife to Maevensong and i know that truely good people don't have to beat people up with their truth… they just get on and live it…kia kaha Elizabeth and Tim (stay strong)

Anonymous April 28, 2010 - 1:28 am

Blessings on your voices, Elizabeth and Tim, so filled with sanity and compassion. May the frightened and the judgmental, the ignorant and the unknowing, hear you and open their hearts.

Brooke April 28, 2010 - 7:12 am

Thank you for this. I must say that you are one who practices what she preaches. I never would have expected to get any time of day from you in the way that I have–in short, making me feel like a worthy human being who could sit in a circle with you, and feel that I belong. I have no doubt you treat everyone this way. It is nice to feel like a worthy human being. Everyone should. Thank you for writing on this.

Brooke April 28, 2010 - 7:15 am

Want to thank Tim for his comment too.

Also want to say that I feel closer to the J-man through Maeve's account of him, more than any other writings about Jesus–probably because he is so believable.

Meredith Gould April 28, 2010 - 12:46 pm

I'm so glad you wrote this important post and yet pray for the day when you — or anyone else — won't have to.

Unknown April 28, 2010 - 1:28 pm

I never did relate to Jesus, at all (my parents were a lapsed Catholic and a fuming Atheist, until I began to read Maeve's Chronicles, which I have done quite a few times. Now Jesus is a real person to me, inspiring, but sometimes infuriating.

I never really understood the whole heresy complex, until now, either, but with Tim living it, well, now I do–the side of those accused of it. I still don't understand the motivation of those who do the accusing, especially since most of them claim to be Christians, and as Elizabeth points out, Jesus did say, Judge not lest you be judged.

One wonders how the Inquisitors squared themselves with that one.

Kare April 28, 2010 - 1:48 pm

1st I have to say I am so happy to read all the positive comments because some people can be really nasty and hateful. Elizabeth this was just a truly beautiful testimony to Tim Dillinger. He is my brother and I love him more then life itself thank you for sharing him and your love for him

Kare April 28, 2010 - 1:49 pm

Oh and also giving those who don't know a little lesson in theology!! Love you 😉

Patsy Moore April 28, 2010 - 6:37 pm

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Patsy Moore April 28, 2010 - 6:37 pm

“The most terrible fight is not when there is one opinion against another; the most terrible is when two men say the same thing and fight about the interpretation, and this interpretation involves a difference of quality.” – Søren Kierkegaard



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